Induction of labour

Induction of labour

Induction of labour is defined as an intervention designed to artificially initiate uterine contractions leading to progressive dilatation of the cervix and birth of the baby. Induction of labour can be performed in pregnant women with intact membranes and women with ruptured membranes, who are not in labour. As with any pharmacological intervention, this induction may have unwanted side effects. Induction of labour is only indicated when it is agreed that the mother or the foetus will benefit from a higher probability of a healthy outcome than if birth is delayed.



Induction of labour is a common procedure: about 20% of the pregnancies will end with induced labour. The induction involves a complex set of interventions, which sets high demands for clinicians and the mother.

Reasons to induce labour may include the pregnant woman suffering from pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure), a pregnancy lasting more than 41 weeks, or if the woman's waters have broken before labour has started.

Drugs to induce labour aim at initiating contractions of the uterus. Oxytocin and prostaglandins have this effect.


Where in the uterus do the contractions of normal labor begin?